ARSA Re-Engages on Housing Requirements, Requests CSI Process Clarification
On Feb 26, ARSA submitted another Consistency and Standardization Initiative (CSI) request to Flight Standards Director John Duncan.
For ARSA and its members, the CSI process is a mechanism through which the concerns of an individual repair station can be made into broad solutions for the industry. By correctly utilizing the CSI process, the association can help the FAA provide clear guidance on regulatory interpretation and compliance. It takes time and attention (see Erickson AirCrane), but the process is a way for the agency to get it right on behalf of the industry.
In truth, CSI requests are powerful only when the agency plays by its own rules. In ARSA’s new submission, the association not only continued its back-and-forth with the agency on housing requirements but also requested an opportunity to review and discuss the CSI process itself.
Since the initial request on April 30, 2014, the association sought clarification on housing requirements for repair stations with limited airframe ratings. A particular Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) required a repair station, holding a limited airframe rating, to obtain “exclusive” access to a hangar. The submission requested the agency clarify that “suitable permanent housing” in the context of obtaining a line maintenance authorization under a limited airframe rating means the repair station has access to a hangar on an “as needed” basis to enclose the largest aircraft it can work on.
The agency has repeatedly missed answering the basic question. In a Sept. 24 letter, the Manager of the Regional Flight Standards Division explained that line maintenance is an authorization – not a rating – limited by the repair station’s operations specifications (Ops Specs). Unscheduled maintenance, the agency contends, may not be performed at facilities not listed in the Ops Specs.
In response, the association moved beyond the particular FSDO issues and refocused on the pivotal question of compliance with housing requirements. ARSA returned – as it always does – to a strict reading of the regulations with support from public and internal-agency guidance.
The association remains confident there is no requirement for an applicant or certificate holder to have exclusive use of suitable permanent housing. “Specifically,” ARSA’s Feb 26 letter concluded, “for airframe-rated repair stations suitable permanent housing means establishing access to and appropriate availability of a hangar big enough to enclose the largest type and model of aircraft listed on its Ops Specs when work requires that enclosure, but availability need not be ‘exclusive’.”
In addition to the specific request regarding housing requirements, the association also called for a meeting with the FAA to review and discuss the CSI process in the context of a May 28 submission regarding work instructions.
The primary purpose of the CSI process is to ensure the consistent application of the agency’s rules and guidance. The process requires the FAA to justify its actions by providing a thorough analysis of the issue and enforcing the regulations. In order to avail itself of clear and standard regulatory application, ARSA will work to ensure the rules of the game are understood and followed.
Previously from ARSA
October 1, 2014
After considerable back-and-forth with the agency, on Sept. 29 ARSA received another FAA response to the letter jointly submitted by ARSA and AJETON, Inc. under the agency’s Consistency and Standardization Initiative (CSI) in April. The CSI requested the FAA clarify that repair stations seeking or holding a limited airframe rating with only a line maintenance authorization are not required to provide “exclusive” hangar access.
ARSA’s regulatory team is analyzing the FAA’s reply. Stay tuned to see how the issue develops and how it impacts your business.
To read the agency’s response, click here.
May 22, 2014
On May 19, 2014, ARSA received a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) response to the letter jointly submitted by ARSA and AJETON, Inc. under the agency’s Consistency and Standardization Initiative (CSI). The CSI requested the FAA clarify that repair stations seeking or holding a limited airframe rating with only a line maintenance authorization are not required to provide “exclusive” hangar access.
The agency again denied the request by determining “it would be contrary to [its] guidance.” Following its earlier practice in this matter, the agency did not provide information supporting the CSI principles for a “clear explanation of the requirements, alternatives, and possible outcomes associated with [the] request” or “a clear explanation of [its] decisions.” ARSA and AJETON quickly addressed the denial by pointing out that the local office had already made its position clear, that the request had even been denied by the next level—the region—and therefore it was incumbent upon the Director of Flight Standards Service to perform a review of the situation.
The primary purpose of the CSI process is to ensure the consistent application of the agency’s rules and guidance. The process requires the FAA to justify its actions by providing a thorough analysis of the issue and enforcing the regulations. In this case, that standard of review has not yet been met.
May 1, 2014
ARSA joined AJETON, Inc. in sending a Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Consistency and Standardization Initiative (CSI) submission regarding housing requirements for repair stations with line maintenance authorization. (To view the submission click here, beware the file is large).
The purpose of the FAA CSI program is to ensure the consistent interpretation of agency rules and regulations across the country. ARSA utilizes the resource to help its members resolve regulatory “disagreements” with their local offices.
In the matter at issue, the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) required the repair station, holding a limited airframe rating and line maintenance authorization, to obtain “exclusive” access to a hangar.
Section 145.103(b) requires a repair station seeking an airframe rating to provide “suitable permanent housing” to enclose the largest aircraft on its operations specifications. (There is no requirement that a repair station provide “exclusive” housing.) Once certificated, the regulations permit a repair station to work “outside” its housing so long as the station provides “suitable” facilities that meet the requirements of § 145.103(a) and enable it to perform the work in accordance with requirements of part 43 (i.e., compliance with proper repair station manual procedures and quality control measures).
The submission recommended that the agency clarify that “suitable permanent housing” in the context of obtaining a line maintenance certification means that the repair station has access to a hangar on an “as needed” basis to enclose the largest aircraft it will work on. In addition, ARSA and AJETON asked the agency to review and align guidance (e.g., Order 8900.1) to standardize requirements for original certification vs. certificate management.
To see all the ways that ARSA is working as the voice of the aviation maintenance industry, visit our ARSA Works page.